The Tour De France is one of the most iconic sporting events in the world. If you get a chance to take your children to France to watch this amazing spectacle of cycling, then it is definitely worth the trip. Cycle Sprog blogger Liz was lucky enough to take her two girls to see the 2013 Tour de France, and here she tells us what it’s like going on a Tour de France family holiday.
“All of our family went to watch the Tour de France in 2013 as it passed close to Annecy, where we were on our summer holiday. Stage 19 of the Tour (204km from Bourg-d’Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand) passed within 10km of Doussard where we were staying, and so we couldn’t miss the opportunity of seeing the Tour de France in France.
We had planned our Tour de France family holiday in advance and so our girls (aged 4 and 7) were excited about the forthcoming adventure. At Doussard there was a great tarmac cycle path (complete with dashed white line divider!) that stretched about 45km in all up to Annecy in the North and then further South, where we were heading.
We rolled all of our bikes out and cycled the 10km to Faverges. I have never seen so many bikes on a cycle track, ever! Lots of people had the same fun idea as us. When we arrived at Faverges the roadsides were already awash with spectators and judging by the number of bikes littered around, most of them had cycled, which was a good idea as the roads were closed!
The Tour de France website has all of the information on timings of when the ‘peloton’ is expected on the route, depending on their average speed.
Our Tour de France family holiday – the main event!
The main point is to make sure that you arrive in good time for the ‘publicity caravan’ which precedes the peloton and is not to be missed! It is a parade of originally decorated vehicles “advertising their wares” and giving away gifts and has become an integral part of the event lasting more than 45 minutes.
Apparently one survey has revealed that 47% of spectators come first and foremost to see the publicity caravan!
We soon found a gap big enough for the 5 or us (including Uncle Rob) and settled ourselves in for the afternoon. A tip is to try and go near a corner or up a hill so the race at least has to slow down a little bit!! We were on the exit of a corner. There was lots of comradery with fellow spectators from all sorts of countries whilst we waited for the onslaught.
The caravan did not disappoint and everyone was on their feet trying to catch the freebies being thrown left and right. Caps, key-rings, sweets, water, saucisson (!) and you name it! The sights and sounds coming from the vehicles going by were truly amazing this was a highlight for the girls before we even got to the bikes.
When the race came through everyone started shouting, clapping and cheering, it was fantastic! The speed of the race was quite breath-taking and the riders were coming very close to us which was an experience.
There was a split in the race so we had a few bikes and then another bunch before the main peloton which was good as it lasted a little longer than if they’d all been together.
I was trying to look out for Chris Froome but it was hard to pick anyone out because you are just trying to take everything in and one minute it’s there and then it’s up the road!
Once the riders had passed, watching the team cars go through loaded up with the spare bikes was exciting, as well as the motorbike cameramen and race officials.
We had all thoroughly enjoyed our tour experience and dispersed back down the cycle track laden with our goodies (aka ‘tour tat’). When I asked the girls what was the best part of watching the Tour de France go by the first response was, “catching the sweets from the cars going by” and secondly, “all of the bright colours flashing by of the bikes”.
Kids and the Tour de France
We hope you’ve enjoyed Liz’s post on going on a Tour de France family holiday. To help kids of all ages enjoy the Tour de France, where ever they are we’ve written a series of kids guides to the Tour de France – we hope you find them useful. Chapeau!
Liz’s blog about her Tour de France family holiday was first published in Jun 2014 and has been updated in June 2016.